When I asked my publisher (I still love saying that!) if I could take a shot at creating the cover art for my book, I knew that book covers are more than just art, they are mostly marketing. Meaning, I needed to do some serious studying, and praying. It would be very possible that she would end up saying, “Yeah, nice … but we can’t use it.”
Still, I wanted to try!
After scouring online articles on book cover concepts, I researched other contemporary middle grade book covers, both best sellers and not, hoping to see a trend. Guess what? There were no trends. Not that I saw, anyway. I did notice that shades of teal and orange were very popular, but the style and art were all over the place! I found everything from cartoon characters to photographs, silhouettes, text only, and fine art. I also found nothing even similar to my art style or medium, which made me wonder if that was a good thing, or a bad thing. I hoped it would make my book stand out…in a good way.
My first sketches for any project have always looked super amateur – like a three year old drew them. My nerves were making these look even worse. I wanted to give up, but I kept sketching and sketching until I finally had one that was approved by my publisher and a few of my artist friends. So, I started choosing my colors and buying paper. Did you know they make papers in prints that look like leather? That was SO exciting! You’ll see why when you see the saddle I made.
A few days into the next phase, I panicked. I’d already taken so much time on the drawing and color scheme. What if I couldn’t pull this together, and my publisher would have to find someone else to do it? What if there wasn’t time for that? If you are imagining me laying awake at night with my brain in freak out mode, you are so right on.
I think it was the day I decided to experiment with making folds in the paper to make my girl on the cover’s shirt look more like fabric, the way I saw another paper artist do, that I finally thought, Wow, that looks pretty cool. I think I got this!
Here are a few photos of my mess, my color scheme inspiration, and a peek at my progress. I’m almost done with the cover now, and it really feels good to be using the creative gifts God gave me. I can’t wait to show you!!
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